Upper Primary (Grades 3-5)

The Upper Primary Division of the SNU Lab School serves a diverse student body in third through fifth grades.

Upper Primary children hit an important “aha!” moment when learning garnered in younger years, coalesces into more sophisticated thinking and peer relationships. They make an important leap when they go from learning to read to reading to learn. With this skill comes the ability to acquire and master new intellectual challenges. Core academic competencies broaden while courses in Art, Computer Science, Library, Music, and PE continue.

Collaborative activities with common goals teach the importance of cooperation, responsibility, and a continuing and more sophisticated respect for each individual’s ideas. Careful thought and planning goes into creating classroom environments that foster—and sustain—the intellectual curiosity children bring to learning.

Upper Primary students focus on serving lower grade level students by reading, sharing new information, and guiding younger group activities. This is not an infrequent occurrence at the Lab School, it is a regular part of our program and fundamental to our multi-grade learning philosophy.

Reading and Language Arts

We believe children learn to read by reading. Therefore, students are provided opportunities to read independently from a variety of genres: fiction, non-fiction, fantasy, biography, historical fiction, and poetry. Emphasis is placed on fluency, vocabulary, and comprehension to develop good reading skills. The teachers help the students learn to read for a purpose, engage in literature discussions, and discover how words work through word studies and writing experiences.

Writing skills are developed through instruction in the writing process: pre-write, draft, revise, edit, and publish. Students explore narrative, expository, explanatory, and persuasive writings as well as reports, stories, and poetry. Grammar is incorporated into meaningful instruction as students learn to read and write for a purpose.

Components of Reading and Language Arts

  • Large and small group instruction

  • Individualized reading levels

  • Phonics skills

  • Reading intervention

  • Peer reading

  • Silent reading practice

  • Comprehension activities

  • Oral reading

  • Tutoring program

  • Vocabulary development

  • Reading activities with University students

  • Accelerated Reader program

  • Oral book reports

  • Library book checkout

  • Spelling instruction

  • Weekly spelling tests

  • Dictionary skills

  • Research skills

  • Creative story writing

  • Handwriting

  • Grammar skills

  • Writing book reports

  • Daily language review

  • Daily paragraph editing

  • Proofreading skills


The Upper Primary math program focuses on developmentally appropriate lessons with hands on activities to help children develop a conceptual understanding of numbers and solving problems. Students are expected to become fluent in the basic facts (addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division), be proficient with computation strategies, and solve math problems mentally as well as with paper and pencil.

Components of Math

  • Math Minutes daily review

  • Memorization of basic facts

  • Hands on exploration of new skills

  • Large and small group instruction

  • Graphing

  • Algebra

  • Geometry

  • Problem solving

  • Higher level thinking skills

Science/Social Studies

Students in Upper Primary are encouraged to learn about the world they live in through inquiry-oriented learning experiences. They learn to use the scientific method during hands on activities that help them develop life long learning skills. The curriculum includes the study of physical, life, space, and earth science.

The Upper Primary social studies curriculum is a framework of history, geography, economics, government, and citizenship. Students study the world they live in, past and present, in order to become the best citizen they can be.

Upper Primary students also have the opportunity to participate in music, p.e., computer/keyboard instruction, and art activities.